HEALTHY BITE | A Holistic Worldview

Dr. Shankardev Saraswati, a good friend of mine and a recurring guest on the show, has joined me to talk about connection, yoga and meditation, stress, and the impact that all of those things have on our well-being.

And this drives me to sit back and reflect on all that has happened over the past couple of years. In this Healthy Bite, I also want to share Mattias Desmet’s book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism. Keep an eye out as we also hear Prof. Jeffrey Sachs' talk, which is relevant to the amount of response to this pandemic we are witnessing globally. 

A Holistic Worldview

This week we had a guest that we had on before, a good friend of mine, Dr. Shankardev Saraswati. Shankardev is a medical practitioner and psychotherapist. He has over 50 years of experience in teaching yoga and meditation, incorporates many of those skills into his psychotherapy work. 

He also takes the integrative approach, looking at nutrition as well. It’s always a delight to get together with him and have the opportunity to talk, and we talk face to face. It’s a wonderful discussion of connection and yoga and meditation and stress and the impact that all of those things have on each other. 

This leads me to this week on the Healthy Bite. Explore. Take a step back from everything that’s gone on in the last few years. Perhaps even one could say in the last 30 or 40 years, in this period of neo-liberalism, a free market economy, and the influence of neo-conservatives on world politics, which impact each and every one of us, whether we realise it or not. Although it may not seem connected, you know, this is part of a holistic approach.

At the same time, I also want to explore the process by which we have so willingly complied with lockdowns and mask mandates and vaccine mandates and polarised and pilloried those that haven’t followed the group narrative. 


And to that extent, I want to also reference the work of Belgian Psychologist Mattias Desmet, who has written a very interesting, provocative book called The Psychology of Totalitarianism, because of the process by which a whole population, a significant portion of the world population, and particularly in the West, although in China this has occurred as well, is to understand the mass formation and to quote from the book on totalitarianism. 

He says, “On totalitarianism, on the other hand, has its roots…” Because he was comparing this with a dictatorial regime which just bullied people because of the threat of physical force. But “Totalitarianism, on the other hand, has its roots in the insidious psychological process of mass formation.” Now, if you haven’t heard that word before, I think it behooves us all to become familiar with that word because I think we are seeing it occurring all around us all the time. 

“Only a thorough analysis of this process enables us to understand the shocking behaviour of a totalitarised population, including an exaggerated willingness of individuals to sacrifice their own personal interests out of solidarity with the collective, i.e. the masses, a profound intolerance of dissident voices and a pronounced susceptibility to pseudo-science, indoctrination, and propaganda. 

The mass formation is, in essence, a kind of group hypnosis that destroys an individual’s ethical self-awareness and robs them of their ability to think critically. This process is insidious in its nature. Populations fall prey to it unsuspectingly. To put it in the words of Yuval Noah Harari,” this is an author who has written Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and 21 Lessons From The 21st Century

He writes, “Most people wouldn’t even notice that the shift towards a totally totalitarian regime. We associate totalitarianism mainly with labour concentration camps and extermination camps. But those are merely the final, bewildering stage of a long process.”. 

Mattias Desmet goes on to say, “In the months and years after I made these initial notes, which led to his book, and more and more references of totalitarianism appeared in his diary, they spun into longer threads that organically connected with other areas of his academic interests. 

For example, the psychological problem of totalitarianism touched upon a crisis that had erupted in the scientific world in 2005, a theme he explored extensively in his doctoral dissertation. Sloppiness.” And this is rather sobering.

“Sloppiness. Errors. Biased conclusions and even outright fraud have become so prevalent in scientific research that a staggeringly high percentage of research papers, up to 85% in some fields,” and those fields specifically the biomedical fields, “…are reached radically wrong conclusions. 

The fascinating thing of all, from a psychological point of view, most researchers were utterly convinced they were conducting their research more or less correctly. They somehow failed to realise that their research was not bringing them closer to the facts, but instead was creating a fictitious new reality.”.

I’ll just finish with this final quote. “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but for people whom the distinction between fact and fiction and the distinction between true and false no longer exists.” and that is a rather sobering lesson for us to learn or to be made aware of in this process. 

I’ve referenced The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine, an article that came out in the British Medical Journal in April of 2022, and I’ve shared with you some of Australia’s leading key opinion leaders and product champions. I think it’s worth saying that I don’t for a minute think these people are sinister in their intent. I think with their hand on their heart. They truly believe what they are talking about is for the betterment of humanity. I really do believe they believe that.

I think the sobering statistic that science has been so corrupted, and I’ve dealt with that in various other podcasts, like The Elephant in the Room, Trust the Science???, The P’s of the Pandemic

I highlighted that in the Australian COVID Forum, the Australian Government Code Forum highlights Australia’s leading product champions, talking about nothing other than patented and expensive drugs and basically ignoring natural immunity or any low-cost interventions which have been shown to be effective. I don’t think they’re evil people. I don’t think they’re ill-meaning people. 

I think they fall into what this psychological process occurs. I think we also need to take a step further back in this global environment and realise just what has been going on in the world, in particular, the last 40 or 50 years, but the political influences which have occurred, and I thought perhaps this I’m going to try in these Healthy Bites in the weeks and months ahead to showcase various books and articles and clips that I think I that I would like to share with you. And this clip, which I witnessed today or was shared today on the weekly newsletter that I get from John Menadue.

John Menadue used to be a very senior in the public service working in the Prime Minister’s Department during the Whitlam and Fraser, I think, and Whitlam years in Australia, that would be in the seventies and eighties. So John Menadue’s, whose pearls and era irritations, is his public policy journal. 

He’s occupied senior positions in business, government, public service, and in private enterprise. And he brings together some terrific articles, which I think are well worth supporting. I want to share one of those with you today, and that was specifically Jeffrey Sachs. I wanted to share this with you today.

Jeffrey Sachs is a Professor of Sustainable Development and a Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He’s Director of Columbia’s Centre for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He served as a special advisor to three UN Secretary Generals, and his books include The End of Poverty Common Wealth, The Age of Sustainable Development, The Building, The New American Economy, and most recently, A New Foreign Policy Beyond American Exceptionalism.

Now, in this short 18-minute clip, he covers a whole range of topics which I think are relevant to what we are seeing also on a level as a response globally to this pandemic, The Mass Formation Psychology, which we’ve seen going on because at the end of the day, this what we have seen and I’ve said this in previous podcasts is one of the most extraordinarily successful business models one could ever imagine. 

An 18-minute Clip from Prof Jeffrey Sachs

It was sobering to see the billions, literally billions of dollars worth of profits going towards the pharmaceutical industry. I believe the Moderna CEO just walked away from his position with a $920 million bonus or golden parachute. And, you know, the top 20 billionaires in the world have earned more in the last two years than they have in the last 20 years. 

So the connection between what is described as an incredible business model, The Great Reset, The Mass Formation Psychology, neoliberalism, The Neoconservative Influence on American Policy, and look at what is going on in the world. We need to take this holistic approach, and that’s why I’m drawing together these concepts in this particular Healthy Bite. So let’s just have a look at and listen to Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

“We’re in a mess. It’s a mess. And we’re not effectively getting out of the mess right now. Some basic points which I’ll just put on the headlines, and then we can discuss them. First, we’re at the end of the U.S. leadership period. A lot of the uncertainties that we feel right now are because the United States does not and cannot lead. 

But Europe does not feel the void, and Latin America, in recent years, has been completely deinstitutionalised. Also, no help from the United States as usual, which can’t even hold a meeting without a fight in which eight countries end up not showing up to Los Angeles last week.”.

“So Latin America’s not in an organised state of affairs. Europe is clearly not. The US has a mindset. The US government, which is our state, has a mindset that it is still the world leader, which is rather preposterous given global realities. But it leads to tremendous mistakes. A failure of diplomacy, a failure to negotiate a very harsh line against China, which is completely contrary to the actual needs of the planet because we need cooperation everywhere. Us versus them mentality. 

So everybody is divided. Are you on our side, or are you on the other side? We cannot function this way because every challenge we face is not about us versus them. COVID was not us versus them. It wasn’t about vaccine nationalism. It wasn’t about accusations. It was about getting a pandemic under control.”. 

“I’ll add one provocative statement. We could take it up later. It may shock you or not shock you, or you may say, I already know that Professor Sachs, but I chaired the Commission for The Lancet for two years on COVID. I’m pretty convinced it came out of US Lab of Biotechnology, not out of nature. Just to mention, after two years of intensive work on this. 

So it’s a blunder, in my view, of biotech, not an accident of a natural spill-over. We don’t know for sure. I should be absolutely clear, but there’s enough evidence that it should be looked into, and it’s not being investigated. Not in the United States, not anywhere. And I think for real reasons that they don’t want to look underneath the rug too much. Well, that got us into a tremendous mess. “

“Now we have a war that could have been avoided. It would have been avoided if the United States had not been so insistent on pushing NATO eastward and eastward and eastward. In this discussion that we sometimes have, because we don’t have much of a public debate, it is claimed that the West never promised that NATO would not go eastward. 

Let me summarise by saying the West did promise very explicitly that NATO would not go eastward. Bill Clinton, who was not a very consequent leader for many reasons, pressure from Central European countries as well as the domestic vote said, okay, we expand NATO eastward in the first wave. 

George W Bush was a walking disaster from the beginning to the end of foreign policy in large NATO’s seven countries – Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, right up to the Russian border. And then, in 2008 had the great brainstorm, well, why don’t we enlarge NATO all the way to Georgia? Take a look at the map. What is that about? This was supposed to be a defensive alliance against a country that no longer exists. Now it’s on the other side of the Black Sea.”.

“My feeling is they were reliving the Crimean War Age that we have to bottle up Russia in the Black Sea. Well, that was Russia’s attitude. I don’t blame them, whether that’s right or wrong. That was their attitude. We should have negotiated. Refusal, refusal, refusal, refusal to negotiate. Then came 2021. Biden came into office. Putin said, “We need to negotiate this.” The United States said, “It’s off the table. We don’t negotiate this issue.” I know it. I mean, I know inside what happened also. 

But they said no negotiation on NATO at all. Three times in 2021. In the NATO Summit, which you’re about to host here in Madrid, and then in two declarations, one with the Defence Department and one with the State Department, the United States said not only is NATO enlargement to Ukraine already cooked in, but we are increasing the military capacity. We’re sending billions of dollars of arms. Okay. 

You don’t think that’s provocative? It’s provocative. So we don’t discuss those things. Because when I say those things in the United States, A. I can’t get even published in an op-ed piece, which is usually something that is not quite an issue for me, having written thousands. And because no one wants to discuss these issues, no debate.”.

“Please. Next week when you host NATO here, don’t just say, “Oh, yes, United States, you’re so wise.” Or “Oh, yes, we pour more weapons into Ukraine so that more can be destroyed.” Please don’t do that because European leaders have known for 14 years how dangerous it is. But they don’t say it. I’d say all the European leaders, except for the U.K., which knows nothing, unfortunately, because all they know is to follow the U.S., but the rest know. 

This is not right. This is dangerous. We need to negotiate. We need a different approach. Russia needs to leave. But we don’t need to enter afterward. So if we actually discussed, there’s an agreement to be reached. But the point, by the way, is not to push Zelensky to discuss with Putin. 

That’s meaningless. It’s the U.S. to discuss with Putin. That’s the only negotiation that counts. What can Zelensky offer? The idea that we sit back and let Zelensky negotiate is an absurdity. It’s a dodge of responsibility. The one responsible is the US President. He should discuss.”. 

“Also in a multilateral setting because this really should be handled by the U.N. Security Council. Which is not impossible. The veto issue doesn’t apply here because there’s no meaning to anything unless Russia also agrees. So we need an agreement where we negotiate within the U.N. Security Council framework. 

China can be a constructive part of this agreement. And that raises another issue. The United States is on a warpath with China. Why? I’ll tell you why. Neurosis. Because the United States has a neurotic fear of China. And the reason is that China is a big country, and the United States is supposed to run the world. And if you’re supposed to run the world in your own mind, and you have this very large country that creates a neurosis. And that’s what we have. 

So everything is put in the worst possible terms, and everything is done in a hostile way. And how safe is it for Taiwan to have the United States every day saying, “We will defend Taiwan, we will defend Taiwan.” That’s about the most dangerous thing you can say for Taiwan. All it does is raise the fear and raise the temperature factor. It’s not calming anything. 

It’s not defending anybody. It’s just creating more anxiety. But that’s the US mindset. It comes back to my first point. We’re in a post-American unipolar world, if there ever was such a thing, even for a moment. But we are in a multipolar world. But that means to take responsibility. Each region. That’s the key.”.

“The interesting thing about the Sustainable Development Goals is that they cannot be achieved country by country anywhere. At a minimum, you need regional cooperation. Thank God for the European Union because that makes it possible for Europe to achieve a European green deal. Try that 27 times separately. Completely impossible. 

But as a union, it’s possible. So the name of the game in this world is regional cooperation, and then the regions cooperating with each other. So a little bit different from a country by country architecture. We need a strong European Union. We need a strong African Union. We need a strong Latin America. What exactly? But we do need a strong Latin America. Unified, not divided. Okay, we’re on this side of Venezuela. 

We’re on this side of Cuba. That’s a US game. That’s not a Latin American game. That’s a U.S. game. Latin America should be unified. The issues are the same everywhere, by the way. How to make the energy transformation? How to upgrade education? How to build core infrastructure? How to bring in marginal groups? It’s the same issue. How to raise technology standards? How to improve research and development capacity? This is a common Latin American, and I’d say and Caribbean programme. 

Not we will do it but can’t have Bolivia, can’t have Nicaragua, can’t have Cuba, can’t have Venezuela. That’s the other side. Not our side. This is impossible. It makes no sense. It’s a US mentality. And by the way, I am sure you know it. It’s all about capturing the electoral votes in Florida. It has nothing to do with anything. 

You think Trump knew who Maduro was or could care less? Not at all. But he was told by Marco Rubio that that’s essential for the 2020 vote in Florida. So all of Latin America gets turned on its head because of a local state election in the United States. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating. This is how weird it is. Otherwise, Trump could not put Venezuela on a map. And could care less, except maybe to build a golf course there. So this is weird. But the region needs together.” 

“Stop the divisions. Unify. Talk about infrastructure. Talk about a zero-carbon energy system. Chile is doing wonderful things, expanding in the Atacama with massive solar energy. And then you have Paraguay and Brazil with Itaipu, and you have incredible wind power in Patagonia and you start putting the pieces together. 

You’ve got a superpower of renewable energy, but it has to be interconnected. It has to be regional cooperation. And every other region of the world should figure this out too. The United States is working overtime to, say, China here, Japan and Korea here. If those three would ever figure it out. From an economic point of view. By the way, those three countries are the world’s superpowers of technology right now. And if they ever work together. Oh, my God. What it would mean. 

By the way, I think it would be good for the world. You’d have a superpower of technological innovation coming, which is good for the world, not bad for the world. But the U.S. is very keen. “You’re on our side. You’re on the quad. We need a new alliance, China’s dangerous, and so forth.” So it’s trying very weird way to create these divisions and these conflicts everywhere.”. 

“Final point, just in opening remarks for us, is that sustainable development is not a nice thing to do. It’s there’s no alternative. There’s chaos, or there is sustainable development. It’s not an ideological option. It’s we fall into not just 40-degree Celsius days in Madrid, but God knows what is going to happen. As we hit tipping points on the climate, which we’re going to hit year after year now. 

And it’s much more dangerous than just the temperature going up another degree. I had the unhappy anxiety of heading a scientific institute on these issues for 15 years at Columbia, and I learnt that climate scientists are the most soft-spoken, terrifying people in the world. Because if you sit down with someone who really knows, not with me, but say with my colleague James Hanson, you walk out shaking. 

Because in a quiet way, they’ll explain to you how the Earth’s systems are absolutely going to be in a state of unprecedented change in the history of civilisation, undermining all basic assumptions of the last 10,000 years. Like, “Where to put cities? Near coasts. Oh, great. Now we have multimeter sea level rise getting cooked in by the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet.” Or what happens when.”

“Another of my brilliant, brilliant late Columbia University climatologist Wally Broecker is shown to be right. He discovered the ocean circulation picture that you’ve seen, how the water descends in the deep ocean in the North Atlantic and then circles the world. That’s called the thermal hailing circulation. And it’s a discovery of the last 60 years. And it was by this brilliant man. And he said. “The global warming and the implications of that could stop this circulation or even merely slow it down or stop it. “It is slowing now, we know. That means that the Gulfstream and all the rest that is part of the circulation is changing fundamentally. 

And the dangers of that are multiple. And there are many tipping points around the world like this. We don’t have a choice, and there’s no real scientific debate. There are uncertainties for sure, but the basics are actually quite well known. And yet if we’re going to be having war in Ukraine and refighting the Crimean War, that is 170 years ago, and having our conflict with China, which goes back to the Opium Wars of 1839, and it’s like America wants to relive all of the greatest gates of the British Empire. 

If we go through that, there is no way we’re going to solve any of these problems. Period. So unless we sit down, discuss, bring the scientists in, bring the engineers in, bring the public in. Calm down. Meet with each other. Understand that we’re in a common fate unless we do all of those things. As I said at the start, it’s a mess.”

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:28:50] I wanted to share that with you. I thought it was there was so much in that what he covered there was so wide-ranging. We were at the end of U.S. leadership. We’re in a post-unipolar world. We need global cooperation everywhere. At the end of the day, when you think about what’s made us great as a species, Homo sapiens, it’s the ability to collaborate and cooperate and communicate which has made us great. 

In this polarised world of mass formation psychology, and we’re being led by a country like America which throws up, you know, this is like watching a Western the goodies and the baddies, the cowboys and the Indians. This is the way it’s viewed. I’m reminded of General Eisenhower, who, in his retirement and was an ironic speech for a man like Eisenhower because he was the leader of the armed forces in the Second World War and escalated nuclear weapons incredibly during his presidency. 

He contributed to, for example, the current relationship between Iran and the US. Goes back to 1953 under his leadership, when the CIA overthrew a democratically elected government that was going to nationalise the oil reserves in Iran. Eisenhower’s CIA overthrew Iran, and that’s what’s going on to this very day today.


America’s influence on the global world, there’s been lots of positives that no doubt the iPhone is a great thing. Technology is a wonderful thing. Google is a great thing, etc. etc.. Americans are very innovative. You can always make a buck in America, and it rewards innovation. But I’ve often said that I thought neo-liberalism, which was born out of America, particularly after the sixties, you know, as a response to the rising of labour in an organisation of labour in the sixties. 

Neo-liberalism was a way of introducing globalisation, introducing cheap labour around the world. Yes, that cheap labour brought people out of poverty, but it also cut the legs out from underneath the labour force in the west, and you know, go into there are many books that go into that. 

But neo-liberalism, which I believe proved to be one of the great social, environmental and political disasters the world has ever seen. And we need to be awake to that. This is exactly what Professor Jeffrey Sachs is talking about.

A Holistic View Of Everything

COVID came out of US biotechnology. This wasn’t a normal disease. And this came out of that. I think that’s been well established. We could have avoided the Ukraine war. The way Russia is described as the evil empire having, without provocation in, invaded Ukraine. 

Well, the movement of NATO closer and closer to the Russian border is very provocative. The US insists on no negotiation with Russia. We can’t get on an op-ed piece. Hey, this guy’s written thousands of articles, but he can’t. This is about the censorship that goes on, not just of COVID facts about the science of COVID and the natural immunity in the use of other things. You can’t get an article like that up in the newspaper either, but anything that did decide that describes an alternate view of what is going on politically in Ukraine obviously can’t do the same. 

The US has a neurotic fear of China. We need at least regional cooperation. The issues are the same everywhere. Talk about infrastructure, talk about zero carbon energy system. The US creating conflicts and divisions everywhere. Climate change is scary. We need to have an open discussion about that. West is refighting the Crimean War, refighting the Opium Wars. It’s time to calm down, discuss and solve issues.

This brings me back to my reference to Eisenhower, who ironically said at the end of his presidency, despite all of the escalation and the chaos, he laid the foundations for a nuclear race and a conflict, an increasing conflict between what our allies in Russia and. And the West had conquered Nazism. He said the thing we have to fear most is the unsolicited influence of the industrial military complex. That was said in January 1961. 

Here we are 51 years later, still reeling from that influence, which is being ramped up as we speak. Good versus evil. Bad, bad, good and bad. Russia Demonised Lab Leaks. Look, it goes on. We need to take a holistic view of everything, whether we’re talking about human health, whether we’re talking about planetary health, whether we’re talking about politics. 

While the narrative is being dominated by a media owned by and influenced by billionaires, which have increased their wealth dramatically, and one only has to look, we did a programme on this, and that was how much Bill Gates on his own has donated to organisations which I previously referred to as news outlets, and now I only refer to his media outlets and his influence on the UN as well. 

There is an agenda going on here. And yet, if we can, as a population, communicate, collaborate, cooperate, and think critically about what is going on, our world would be a better place for it. And that’s what this podcast is all about. That’s what the Unstress Health Community I hope we are going to be building will be part of. So I invite you to join us. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.



This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.